What had begun as a medical concept in an attempt to encourage patients to exercise healthy habits, has been reintroduced by mainstream culture as a consumerized trend in the recent times. This explains how the self-care industry estimated at 10 billion USD in 2014, is now worth 450 billion USD.
Mainstream media’s narrow depiction of self-care seems to focus more on aesthetics rather than actual self-improvement. A simple search for #selfcare on Instagram yields over 39.2 million posts of lifestyle influencers doing yoga poses and corporations advertising their ridiculously expensive self-care products – all of which demonstrate how the movement has gradually evolved into a status symbol.
This raises the question: Is the self-care movement really a step in the right direction towards effectively bettering the holistic well-being of the public, or is it just another expensive, consumer-driven, capitalist act we are expected to fall for?
Promoting ‘cosmic’ health, companies like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop sells a $175 ‘Ritual candle’ while Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh advertises a $190 LED face mask for glowing skin. But they all seem to perpetuate the idea that self-care is something that can be bought rather than practiced.
Self-care, however, doesn't have to be as elaborate or expensive as social media would like for us to believe. For most of us, it lies in the simple things, whether that is going for a morning walk, picking up a new hobby, eating healthy, or simply being kinder to ourselves. The deal lies in creating a system that works for us in the long-term, while still giving ourselves space to breathe.
As social media inches the concept of self-care into the mainstream conversation, we must remember there are ways to forgo investing in consumer-driven self-care products and still be kind to ourselves. Because that is what self-care fundamentally stands for – taking the time to understand and attending to our needs.